Six vie for four seats on Geneseo School Board

Mindy Carls
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Geneseo School Board Candidate Keith Buening

Challenger Keith Buening of Geneseo is one of six candidates running for four seats on the Geneseo school board.

Election Day is Tuesday, April 6. The winners will serve four-year terms.

Education:

BA in Business Administration from St. Ambrose along with various professional designations: FALU, FLMI, CLU.

 Work, volunteer and political experiences 

I am a former president of the Geneseo Performing Arts Council. I volunteered for numerous activities when my son was in band. My wife is a teacher in Geneseo. My son went through the Geneseo School System.

 Why are you running for this office?

I want to bring more transparency to the decision-making process. I believe that all stakeholders should have input. There are a lot of wonderful, hard-working people in the District. We should all work as partners and support each other as we educate the students to the best of their ability.

What are three things you want to accomplish if you win?

1. Ensure that tax dollars are being spent wisely.

2. Communicate expectations and responsibilities for everyone involved in the education process: students, parents, faculty, staff, administration, and the board.

3. Make sure that Geneseo is well prepared to take our students into the future by providing current curriculum to prepare them for college, or a trade, or wherever they want to go after they graduate.

What are three things you would like to change?

1. Improve communication between all parties involved in the education process. Make sure all voices are heard and respected.

2. Make sure we are utilizing our administrators, faculty and staff effectively.

3. Improve and emphasize that we are all partners in the process. Everyone has responsibilities and should be accountable for their role in a student’s education.

Geneseo school board candidate Kane Causemaker

Challenger Kane Causemaker, Atkinson, is one of six candidates running for four seats on the Geneseo school board.

Education

Bachelor’s in Animal Science and Agricultural Education, Master’s of Agriculture focused on Education.

Work, volunteer and political experiences

I work for JBS. My primary daily tasks revolve around the procurement of animals and, in turn, retail meat sales. I currently sit on the Geneseo Youth Baseball and Softball board, volunteering my time as a baseball coach, and one of the many organizers of our town’s recreational summer baseball and softball program.

Why are you running for this office?

There are many reasons why I decided to run for the school board. Better understanding what makes our district tick and how to enhance what previous boards have built is my goal. Even though I did not enter into an education position post-college, my interest in character-based education never waned.

If I am elected to the Geneseo school board, this platform of education is one I would strive for our organization to be more accustomed to. Continuing to focus on ideals that create a positive, high integrity learning environment is paramount.

What do you want to accomplish if you win?

My long-term aspiration, although broad, is to make a lasting impact on the general build and layout of District 228. Within the front end of being seated on the board, I will look to meet and engage with others having a similar passion of bettering the educational opportunities for students in our area.

What would you like to change?

I have little interest in sweeping change and more interest in strengthening the board. I have a lot to learn before I introduce any sort of significant change.

Geneseo school board candidate Karen Urick

Incumbent Karen Urick, Geneseo, is one of six candidates running for four seats on the Geneseo school board.

A native of Indianola, Iowa, she has lived in Geneseo 39 years.

Education

Iowa State University, Bachelor of Science in Forestry and Pest Management, 1982.

Augustana College, Teaching Certificate in 6th through 12th grades, biology, general science and math, 1985.

Western Illinois University, Masters in Health Education and Promotion, 2000.

Work, volunteer and political experiences

Work: North Scott Community Schools, eighth grade science, high school biology and algebra, 1985 to 1993. Erie Community Schools, seventh and eighth grade science and health, 1993 until retiring in 2019.

Volunteer: Currently tutor, East Moline Correctional Center (pre-COVID-19). Homewood Evangelical Free Church, Care Team, adult Sunday school teacher.

Political: Current school board member, four years. Henry County Board, eight years. Henry County Farm Bureau board member, four years.

Why are you running for this office?

As a retired teacher, I have a heart for students, and an understanding of what is needed to operate a school system. My goal is to promote our school district's mission statement, "Teach-Learn-Care".

Geneseo school district is an exemplary school district with a 97 percent graduation rate, and only 3 percent mobility. This is a reflection of the excellent job our district does K-12.

To accomplish these goals, the district needs to be fiscally sound. The school board is the eyes and the ears of the district budget. Careful analysis, and review of our budget each month, is a requirement.

What do you want to accomplish if you win?

1. As a member of the Educational Technology committee, I look forward to the facilities expansion of the current classroom space and for our technical program. Grants from stakeholders in our community, and use of the 1 percent sales tax, will allow us to move ahead with a modern facility.

2. I want to continue to move towards financial stability and fiscal accountability. Overseeing the use of the 1 percent sales tax for maintaining, renovating and upgrading existing school facilities, for new construction and for paying off building bonds that can help reduce property taxes, is an important component.

3. Expanding current course offerings, and allowing teachers to teach, is a primary goal as a school board member. I want to provide the opportunities and infrastructure teachers need to continue to succeed.

What would you like to change?

1. I would like to improve public confidence in our school board during these challenging times. With varied opinions on all sides, I want residents to know that I am readily available and appreciate input from all sides.

2. My goal is to have students attend school five days a week, as the metrics continue to improve, and the vaccination rate increases. I would like our students to attend every day, with an hour early out, by the end of the school year. As they feel comfortable, students that are currently 100 percent virtual, should return to in-person learning. In August, we need to be ready to go for full in-person learning.

3. Taxpayers need to be familiar with the district budget. The CSBO (Chief School Business Official) report each month, available online, gives a snapshot of both income and expenses. Awareness of the school district budget provides an understanding of how resources are used within our district.

Geneseo school board candidate Barry Snodgrass

Incumbent Barry Snodgrass, Geneseo, is one of six candidates running for four seats on the Geneseo school board.

Snodgrass was born and raised in Geneseo.

Education

Graduated from Geneseo High School (formerly J.D. Darnall High School), Drake University and Western Ill University with a Bachelor of Science Degree.

Work, volunteer and political experiences

15 years co-owner of Snodgrass Asphalt, 29 years owner of Becker & Becker Plumbing and Heating, sold business. Coached high school girls soccer, 11 years. Geneseo school board, 24 years. Henry-Stark Special Education District, eight years. Vice chairman, Blackhawk Division, Illinois Association of School Boards. Current president of Geneseo school board and chairman of Henry-Stark Counties Special Education District.

Why are you running for this office?

To help to get our kids and grandkids a step ahead of other children for their futures. Give them what they need to succeed and have success in the world we leave them. Help to give kids the tools and knowledge to be the best in their communities they live in. Help guide others to be successful.

What do you want to accomplish if you win?

1) Keep all kids, teachers and adults healthy.

2) Get a vocational program set up and a new vo-tech building, to properly teach them trades as an option to going to college.

3) Bring improvement to our math scores across the district. Find the correct tools to improve our understanding of math-related skills.

4) Get back to full-time school and consistency.

What would you like to change?

1) Get rid of the Covid-19 virus.

2) Get a balanced budget for 2021-22 and beyond.

3) Get rid of the cancer that is in me.

Geneseo School Board candidate James Ash

James Ash did not return the completed questionnaire to the Republic before deadline.

Geneseo school board candidate Heather DeBrock

Incumbent Heather DeBrock, Geneseo, is one of six candidates running for four seats on the Geneseo school board.

Education

Graduate of Geneseo High School. Obtained an Associate's Degree in Applied Science and a degree in respiratory therapy from Black Hawk College.

Work, volunteer and political experiences

Vice president of Board of Education, president of Chamber of Commerce, vice president of Rotary Club, room mother, Personal Committee at First Lutheran Church, Vacation Church School, Vocational Committee, Wellness Committee, served meals for Churches United, packed meals for Kids Against Hunger, volunteer at Lutheran Outdoor Ministries Center.

Why are you running for this office?

I have been on the school board since 2013. I have been the only member with children in our school system. It is important to have a wide perspective and strong overall understanding of the issues at hand.

What do you want to accomplish if you win?

I would like to see students return to full attendance five days a week. We need to develop a strategy to help our students regain what was lost this past year. Plans for our new vocational center that will expand the opportunities for our students need to be completed.

What would you like to change?

I would like to have set plans in place so there is no more disruption of our students' education. This would require more frequent and transparent communication between parents, teachers and administration. We need to develop a strong support system in our district.